Wales' life sciences sector is booming and the best is yet to come
Sun 1st May
It is now one of Wales’ fastest growing and most innovative industries, employing over 11,000 people in more than 350 companies and contributing around £2bn to the Welsh economy every year.
Employment has risen by more than 5% per annum in recent years.
It is interesting to look back over the past five years, when this impetus really got under way with the appointment in 2010 of the first life sciences advisory panel that set the strategy to drive the growth of the sector nationally and internationally.
This could be described as the start of a chain reaction of events in Wales that have catapulted the profile and reputation of the Welsh life sciences sector globally.
In 2011 BioWales was re-launched from an academic conference into a dynamic industry-led business-orientated conference and exhibition.
This week we mark the biggest and best BioWales to date attracting more than 700 delegates, including more than 100 from overseas.
Raising the international profile of the sector is another key objective and supported by Welsh Government led trade missions designed to attract inward investment, promote the sector and support Welsh businesses to export.
Our presence at Medica remains the largest single sector trade mission from Wales, last year attracting over 80 delegates.
Wales Life Sciences Fund
Another key milestone was marked in 2013 when the Welsh Government announced £50m to establish the £100m Wales Life Sciences Fund – the first fund of its kind in the world.
It has since made eleven investments in nine different businesses, of which seven have developed into new inward investors.
The opening of the UK’s first proton beam therapy centre, in Wales, later this year under the auspices of Proton Partners is just one example of the immense impact the fund has had.
Notably, the fund has attracted over £230m of co-investment in its initial rounds.
This week ReNeuron – another key business supported by the fund - a pioneering stem cell regenerative therapy company begins to move its entire operations to the Welsh Government’s new Advanced Therapies Medicinal Products facility at Pencoed.
Life Sciences Hub Wales
Another crucial investment by the Welsh Government was the Life Sciences Hub Wales which opened its doors in 2014.
The hub is now firmly established as the central resource and meeting point for life science collaborators in Wales. It has gained a worldwide reputation, with over 7500 unique visitors in its first 18 months of operation.
The Life Sciences Hub Wales is instrumental in providing the platform to promote the sector and its diverse capability and expertise internationally.
In its first year, the hub worked with internationally focused organisations such as Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science, Sherbrooke Innopole, One Nucleus and Medicon Village.
It is currently working on further potential opportunities around Europe and internationally.
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